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Coal Use in Cement Factories, Egypt

With the support of the EBRD and profiting from the political instability, business tycoons of the cement industry pushed to advance the coal agenda, when the industry enjoys a rather high profit margin


At a time of political instability and energy shortages, the Egyptian government turned to introducing imported coal as an energy source for the cement industry, due to insufficient natural gas supplies. Business tycoons of the cement industry claimed high losses, pushing to advance the coal agenda, when the industry enjoys a rather high profit margin and benefits from subsidised electricity and a strong lobbying power (1). Despite disapproval from civil society, and the industry's track record of causing high pollution, in April 2014 an interim cabinet decision approved the combustion of coal in cement plants in absence of an elected parliament (2,3). Environmental and human rights groups (most outspokenly the grassroots movement Egyptians Against Coal, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), as well as the previous Minister of Environment Laila Eskandar) have been mobilizing against this backward decision on legal, environmental and health premises (4, 3).

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Coal Use in Cement Factories, Egypt
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Coal extraction and processing
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific commodities:Cement
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:20-40 million (the majority of cement power plants are concentrated in the most populous regions)
Start of the conflict:20/11/2013
Company names or state enterprises:CEMEX from Mexico
Suez Cement from Egypt
Lafarge from France - In Egypt, Lafarge was the first to adopt the coal policy, and had imported coal for use in its plants even before the cabinet's approval of the practice (7, 9).
Arabian Cement from Egypt - By November, 2014, it had started a gradual switch, and had imported 700,000 tonnes of coal from South Africa, Ukraine and Spain
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Environment
Ministry of Electricity
Egyptian Cabinet
International and Finance InstitutionsThe European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-Egyptians Against Coal
-The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR)
-The Association of Health and Environmental Development (AHED)
-The Society for Community Development in South Sinai
-The Egyptian Initaitve for Personal Rights
-Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA)
- Egyptian Center for Legislative and Civil Reform
- Tahrir Association of Doctors
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution
Potential: Global warming, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsRespiratory diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Cement factories already started using imported coal, with no evidence to suggest improved conditions in transportation or factory practices. Further, the new (anti)protest law in Egypt muffles the once active voices of civil society.
Sources & Materials

(6) ECESR Welcomes Renewable Energy Tariff policy, Condemns Continue of Coal Use
[click to view]

(5) Report: Report: Suez Cement begins burning coal in Qattamiya
[click to view]

Is Egypt on the verge of an environmental disaster?
[click to view]

(1) Court hears session in case against coal imports
[click to view]

(7) Egyptian cement companies start coal use
[click to view]

(9) The coal war
[click to view]

Egypt's cement firms overcome gas shortages by importing coal
[click to view]

(8) Alwafd - Egyptians Agains Coal: The Minister of Electricity's decision is disasterous
[click to view]

(2) ECERS:Following Cabinet ِApproval of Coal Use to Generate Energy
[click to view]

(3) Coal imports approval confirmed
[click to view]

(4) ECESR Publishes Correspondence with the EBRD About Plans to Finance Egyptian Government’s Use of Coal
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EJAtlas contributor
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2078
Related conflicts
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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